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The Best of Clerkenwell Design Week 2024: MuzwAa Reports Live From London


From vibrant installations by Peter Morris and Duffy London, and innovations in materials and products from leading British, Italian, German and Danish brands to stirring conversations featuring Mary Portas, Simone Brewster and more, here’s our listing of the most memorable experiences from the 13th edition of UK’s leading design fair.

By Kulkiran Bedi

20 June 2024

The Gatekeepers installation at the historic St John's Gate of the Order of St John by Duffy London x Orsi Orban | Image by Sam Frost; Courtesy of Clerkenwell Design Week

The 13th edition of London’s annual Clerkenwell Design Week swept through the city’s EC1 neighborhood from May 21 - 23, featuring 600+ events and over 160 local showrooms and 300 exhibitors that showcased the latest in everything from furniture and lighting to kitchen and bathroom designs, materials, decorative accessories and more. Beyond this primary programme, a series of 10 site-specific installations and a thoughtfully curated talks agenda were also on offer. 

Despite the British capital’s notoriously rainy weather, the festival brought thousands of visitors to 12+ venues across Clerkenwell, solidifying CDW’s place as one of Europe’s leading design fairs. From innovative products and materials to vibrant installations and stirring conversations, here’s our listing of the most memorable experiences from this edition of the festival. 

The Possible Impossible Pavilion by Peter Morris Architects 

British architect Peter Morris joined forces with manufacturer Build Lite to produce a smaller scale version of one of his upcoming projects called the Cloud House. Situated outside St James Church Park, the installation featured numerous, interlinked arches, drawing inspiration from the architecture of churches. "This joyful sculpture is designed to celebrate the creation of the possible from the seemingly impossible,” said Morris of the installation’s pale pink hues and curvaceous elements that he designed with the intention to humanize the street and infuse a sense of vibrancy and playfulness into the neighborhood.

Peter Morris joined forces with Build Lite to design The Possible Impossible Pavilion that featured numerous, interlinked arches | Image by Sam Frost; Courtesy of Clerkenwell Design Week

The Possible Impossible Pavilion also challenged conventional construction methods by employing Build-Lite's Stone-Coat material, an innovative ultra-light polystyrene-based imitation stone. This pioneering material enabled Morris to fashion a vibrant and joyful structure that would have been expensive and challenging to achieve using traditional building materials. 

Gatekeepers by Duffy London x Orsi Orban 

British design studio Duffy London's collaboration with Berlin-based surface designer Orsi Orban resulted in a series of sculptures placed at the historic St John's Gate of the Order of St John. Inspired by organic forms found in nature and hand-crafted in cherry wood, the sculptures displayed a dynamic sense of movement.

Gatekeepers by Duffy London x Orsi Orban was inspired by organic forms found in nature and hand-crafted in cherry wood | Image by Sam Frost; Courtesy of Clerkenwell Design Week

The intricate patterns on the surface of the sculptures were meticulously produced to work with the flow of the form, highlighting the exciting possibilities that emerge from merging human creativity with artificial intelligence. “Each sculpture originates from a detailed 3D model,” said Orban of the development process, “which is then transformed into drawings and, ultimately, into two-dimensional modules. Based on these meticulous drawings, we were able to determine technical and design specifics, including connection points and pattern directions.”

Italian, Danish, German & British Collections 

CDW 2024 introduced three international pavilions to the festival, creating a vibrant and diverse showcase of global design talent. The Italian Collection took over the first floor of Design Fields, featuring 31 brands across lighting, textiles and furniture including Lo Decor, Moschella, and Real Piel RP. The Danish Collection at the Paxton Locher House captured the essence of Danish design, showcasing the latest from brands like Ro Collection, Thors Design, and Sika Design. And Catapult hosted the German collection, which featured brands such as Continental, Blanco, HERITAGE 1864, and Parador. 

Benchmark’s exhibit at the British Collection | Image by Ashley Bingham; Courtesy of Clerkenwell Design Week

Meanwhile, the British Collection at St James’s Church doubled its size this year, featuring celebrated local brands such as Benchmark Furniture, James Burleigh, and Morgan. SCP launched a new Peonia armchair by Wilkinson and Rivera made using 100% natural and sustainable materials and Another Country showcased a new furniture series inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement.

ReFigure by Universal Fibers 

American synthetic solution-dyed fiber maker Universal Fibers impressed attendees at Design Fields with an exhibit that transformed elements from their own 2023 installation Promenade into a series of colorful and creative resting spaces. Appropriately titled ReFigure, the installation highlighted the company’s dedication to reducing waste and its journey towards carbon-negative fiber production.

Universal Fibers transformed elements from their own 2023 installation Promenade into a series of colorful and creative resting spaces  | Image Courtesy of Universal Fibers

In addition to the physical structure, Universal Fibers also incorporated interactive elements within the innovative outdoor space such as an “impact quiz” to discover the visitors’ ability to enact positive change.

Conversations at Clerkenwell

Another highlight was the return of Conversations at Clerkenwell at Design Fields. Curated by entrepreneur-designer Katie Richardson, the program included a rich line-up of lectures and talks, covering topics from retail, materiality and color to work-focused trends, craft, neurodiversity and artificial intelligence.

Mary Portas spoke to  journalist Becky Sunshine about her achievements across retail, fashion, and the wider UK business landscape | Image by Sam Frost; Courtesy of Clerkenwell Design Week

Notable speakers at the event included Mary Portas OBE, Simone Brewster, Henry Holland, Bethan Laura Wood, Harry Handelsman and Harry McKinley. Handelsman, the founder and CEO of Manhattan Loft Corporation, shared his insights on disruptive thinking and using design to create memorable experiences. The talk Why co-design? by Shawn Adams of POoR Collective (Power Out of Restriction) explored the advantages of working collaboratively with educational institutions, young people and different community groups.

Stay Playful (When No One Feels Like Playing) by 2LG Studio

In honor of 2LG Studio’s 10th anniversary, co-founders and spouses Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead unveiled a unique installation at Spa Fields, which was a nostalgic nod to their personal past — of Cluroe's early days working at a fairground in the Black Country Living Museum and Whitehead's childhood memories of kitsch ornaments from his grandmother’s home. 

2LG Studio’s unique installation at Spa Fields  was a nostalgic nod to its co-founders’ personal past | Image by Megan Taylor; Courtesy of Clerkenwell Design Week

The centerpiece of the installation was a vintage helter-skelter, a traditional British fairground ride temporarily hired from Aldershot, Hampshire, and repurposed for the event in a vibrant shade of pink. Inside, the designers curated “a sort of cabinet of curiosities” based on their childhoods.

This article is part of MuzwAa’s coverage of the Clerkenwell Design Week 2024 as an official media partner.


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